COVID-19 Updates for YWCA Team

Updated 12pm, Thursday 26 March 2020

Dear team,

I know we are all receiving a lot of information on COVID-19 and I feel it is important I keep you updated on the happenings at the Y.  I want to assure you that the Executive Team are meeting multiple times a week to review the latest government measures, adapt our business to best meet the current needs and to plan ahead.

I am committed to giving you regular updates about changes we are making in response to COVID-19. There will be more updates to come.

We have introduced a new policy today and provided additional information. These include:

  • Formalisation of our COVID-19 Paid Special Leave Policy
  • Updates to the Frequently Asked Questions document
  • Ongoing promotion of healthy work from home practices and the importance of maintaining good mental health

All these dot points are covered in more detail below, so please scroll down for more information

COVID-19 Paid Special Leave Policy

To ease some of the concerns and pressures that you may be facing, we have introduced our COVID-19 Paid Special Leave Policy. Here’s the key takeaway from the policy for you:

There will be Paid Special Leave of up to 10 days available to all employees (pro-rata for part-timers and based on a projected two week roster for casuals) who are unable to work because they are confirmed/suspected of having COVID-19 or are self-isolating due to COVID-19. This Paid Special Leave can be accessed after existing Personal and Annual Leave have been used up.

For more information on eligibility, read the full policy on National Portal and if you have any further questions please contact People & Culture.

Updates to the Frequently Asked Questions document

This includes updated travel advice from the Federal Government including a ban on international travel and restrictions on domestic travel in some states which include mandatory self-isolation periods. This is a reminder that YWCA has already stopped all work-related domestic and international travel. We understand that there may be extenuating circumstances (e.g. compassionate travel to be with family), so please talk to your Director and People & Culture if this is the case. 

Workplace Health and Safety

We’ve recently provided some good tips on WFH Life on our National Portal here.

It is important to take care of yourself – both physically and mentally. It is good to stay socially connected and I know there are some of our teams who are doing virtual morning coffees or Friday afternoon drinks over Microsoft Teams.

Please remember you can always reach out to our EAP on 1300 361 008 for support during this time. They are there to help.


I wanted to thank each and every one of you for the way in which you’re handling this pandemic. I know that each of our business areas have had to make quick adjustments to the way they run in order to respond to this crisis, and I am proud of our adaptability and innovation.

Take care,
CEO, YWCA Australia

P.S. If you haven’t seen it yet – we are also continuing our important advocacy work on behalf of all women, young women and girls! This piece ran in all major metro news outlets across all states on Tuesday this week in response to the announcement of the Government’s second stimulus package.

Update from Monday 16 March 2020.

Dear YWCA Team members,

Over the last few weeks, we have been keeping you updated on the evolving situation with COVID-19.

Our priority is to ensure your health and wellbeing. I know many of you are feeling concerned and worried as these events unfold. This is understandable and we are here to provide support. Our EAP service is available on 1300 361 008 and all calls are confidential.

We are working to fully understand COVID-19 and its potential impacts. The Executive Team are meeting a minimum of twice weekly to ensure we stay up to date with the current movements, answer key questions and pro-actively adjust our plans with wider team member input. We will continue to stay abreast of the situation and keep you updated. 

Today, we have taken additional measures for our safety:

  • Meetings are to take place virtually. Where meetings are required to be face to face, maintain a clear distance.
  • Reviewing Work From Home practices to enable greater flexibility.
  • All international and domestic company travel has been cancelled until further notice.

COVID-19 planning

We’re ensuring that we’re prepared to address the challenges of the evolving COVID-19 situation, while staying focused on the continued day to day support of our clients. We are following the Health Authorities advice as it changes, aligning our action plans and we will be keeping you updated.

We will be communicating with you via email and SMS, posting information to a dedicated COVID-19 page on our YWCA Australia website (this one!), and on the National Portal. In order to keep you updated, it’s important that we have your current contact details (mobile and email). Please visit ADP Payroll to ensure the information we have is correct.

We have created a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document, that can be downloaded from our website or for staff with access to SharePoint, via the National Portal. We will continue to update this regularly, so you have a single source of information. Please be aware that as the FAQ document will be updated regularly; if you download and print it, you need to ensure you are viewing the latest version.

Working or self-isolating during COVID-19

There are two areas that I would particularly ask you to focus on:

  • I’m aware that some of you may have concerns about using leave, not getting paid, or loss of shifts if you have to self-isolate. The most important thing is that you, your colleagues and our clients stay safe and well. If you are unwell, have been instructed to self-isolate, or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, please do not come to work and follow advice from Health Authorities or your medical professional. You can talk to your manager who will liaise with your Director and People and Culture about your individual circumstances and the options available to support you.  We have provided leave options available in the FAQ document.
  • If you are well and have not been confirmed as being in close contact with a person with COVID-19, please continue coming to work until advised otherwise. Close contact is defined by Health Authorities as someone who has been face to face for at least 15 minutes or been in the same closed space for at least two hours, as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 when that person was infectious. Even if you are at a location or have been on a flight where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, this may not be classified as close contact and you are able to keep working unless you become unwell. Please be assured that your safety is our priority and we will continue to monitor the advice and any risks with continuing to come to work.  Where roles are able to work from home (WFH) we are encouraging them wherever possible.

If you have any concerns or further queries regarding this advice or need additional support at this time, please talk to your manager, our Health Safety & Wellbeing (HSW) Advisor Alison Tindale or a member of the People & Culture team.

Please remember, the best tool we have across the community to minimise the spread of the virus is frequent and thorough hand washing and other simple hygiene measures, so your help in following this and reminding others to do the same is really important.

The COVID-19 situation means we are dealing with continued uncertainty and disruption to our life at work and outside of work. I want to express my appreciation to all YWCA Australia team members, and thank you for your ongoing commitment to providing the highest quality support to our clients. Please take great care of yourself and others through this time.

Take care,

Michelle Phillips
CEO, YWCA Australia